Thematically, “21 Summer” recalls the nostalgia of a lost summer love, and the effects that it has on the male of the relationship in question. After hearing this song, I immediately thought of similar songs by Keith Urban and Kip Moore titled, “’Til Summer Comes Around” and “Girl Of The Summer”, respectively. Both of those songs share similar framing, as they both center around a girl who seemingly disappeared from the scene once summer ended without so much as a goodbye, leaving the male narrator bitter and heartbroken. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking those songs, nor am I going to go into great detail with them (after all, this is a review of Brothers Osborne and not Kip or Keith.) However, it really seems to elevate the framing and songwriting of “21 Summer” as a whole when you put it in context. The song still focuses on a heartbroken male. However, he is able to look back at those memories with a smile on his face rather than a grudge. And maybe that’s because the relationship here not only ended amicably, but also taught the narrator a lot of lessons along the way, such as how to be a man and what love truly is. Then there’s the fact that the male directly says that he hopes his old flame managed to achieve her goals in life, and wishes her the best wherever she may be by now. There’s a strong sense of maturity present here that I can definitely appreciate.
Instrumentally, this song drifts away from the brother’s signature fusion of country, rock and blues, and instead, locks in a more country-pop sound, which works surprisingly well (I’d even argue better) for the duo. There’s a spacey atmosphere here that often times feel smoothing, and is accentuated by the warm delivery with which TJ Osborne delivers this song with. The chorus on this song is melodically strong, and heck, even the “oh’s” that echo after the choruses are done right, most likely because they serve to bolster the somewhat haunting tone of this song rather than just serving as pointless ear candy.
As the reality of winter finally starts to set in (I mean it’s only late January…..), “21 Summer” is the perfect single the Brothers Osborne could have sent to radio. There are a lot of little key elements that make this song stand out above the rest of the pack, and for that, it’s most likely going to be one of the better country singles in the mainstream this year. Certainly a fine start if you ask me.
Listen: “21 Summer”
Author: Zackary Kephart